Applauding all the way

THE INSIDE JOB

BY SANDALENE DALE ROBERTS

“It’s a celebration of everyone who works with us,” said Sandalene proudly as she welcomed the team, family and media to the launch of her book. It’s a big family, a tribe that shares the life of achieving excellence. Now it has been shared to inspire anyone who has dined at any of the Luke Dale Roberts restaurants.

Extracts from Luke’s diary, revealing quotes, emotive photography and handwritten notes – the book is a collection of visual treats. It’s personal, a true share. Sandalene thanked her two men (Luke and Finley), her parents who were present, and the individuals who made it happen – each person highlighted in the book was easily identifiable from a caricature badge, a collection of which features on the cover. Their sense of pride was palpable.

Cocktails and canapes, the recipes for which are in the book, were sipped by an appreciative audience in the courtyard and light room of The Test Kitchen.

The book, at R970 is available exclusively from the Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, Shortmarket Club, and Salsisfy.

THE DISTELL INTER HOTEL CHALLENGE

BY SHOWCOOK

It was during a quick chat to Test Kitchen sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka at the book launch that I discovered that he was the first-ever winner of the wine steward category in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge.

The challenge, now in its seventh year, has been launched at a series of sumptuous functions around SA – Johannesburg, Durban, two in the winelands, and the last, at the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. On a glorious evening glamorously-dressed guests gathered on the lawns to witness not only a spectacular sunset, but whales playing in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s this kind of attention to detail that one has begun to expect from Annette Kesler and Chania Morrit-Smith of Showcook, who engineer this worthwhile initiative. It makes a unique and valuable contribution to the industry, giving talent a platform on which to learn, grow and shine. The candidates in the chef, sommelier and now concierge categories were introduced by their executive chefs and managers of the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, the One&Only, Vineyard Hotel, Southern Sun Cape Sun and SunSquare City Bowl, the President Hotel and Marriot Crystal Towers. They were charming and engaging, nerves and all, and I wish each and every one of them the very best of luck in the forthcoming months as they compete to be crowned the best in their categories.

 

South Africa’s 2019 plated chefs announced

JHP Gourmet Guide 2019

The 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide awards and announcement of plated chefs and restaurants was an intimate, memorable affair at The Restaurant @ The Nek. It was an opportunity to thank generous sponsors Swiss International Air Lines, KitchenAid, Mervyn Gers Ceramics and Taittinger.

The first Haute Performance winners were announced, their prizes handed over by Ina Paarman. Chefs collected their bespoke toques and plates, sipped Taittinger and devoured tasty snacks prepared by chef Dylan Laity (plated in 2017 and 2018). SWISS handed over the second Culinary Innovation award to Luke Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen.

JHP GOURMET GUIDE™ – SA’S 25 PLATED & 50 RATED CHEFS, RESTAURANTS & RECIPES

In Europe, the UK and USA, Asia and South America it is the honour of Michelin stars that restaurants and chefs aspire to. One, two or three hat-awards keeps chefs in Australia producing world-class cuisine. In South Africa, it’s one, two or three plates that chefs proudly hang on their walls to show the world that they too have reached a pinnacle of their career.

South Africa’s restaurant plate rating, which equates to global standards for evaluating and rewarding fine dining establishments, has been acknowledged for its impartiality and credibility. Plated chefs and restaurants feature in the annual, glossy, keepsake JHP Gourmet Guide™, with their recipes.

One plate highlights exceptional cuisine, two plates are presented for exceptional dining that demands a detour, and three for a world-class dining experience that is worthy of a flight.

“It took many years of global research to understand what sophisticated diners want in an unforgettable restaurant experience. Dining at world-class establishments has given me not only the honour of interviewing the chefs that make it happen, but also to compare our restaurants, and to be justifiably proud of our homegrown chefs,” says curator and originator of the award, Jenny Handley.

Rather than comparing SA restaurants and chefs to one another, the JHP Gourmet Guide™ benchmarks according to global icons. A seafood restaurant will be compared to, for example, Le Bernardin in New York which holds three Michelin stars and was voted number one in New York in four out of five years. A country manor restaurant could be compared to Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, holder of two Michelin stars.

SOUTH AFRICA, A CULINARY DESTINATION

South African cuisine is bringing culinary travels from all over the world, particularly to the Western Cape and winelands. Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde states: “Tourism is one of the major contributors to the Western Cape economy and one of the engine rooms for job creation. As a result of the rich diversity of cultures, wide variety of restaurants and the exceptional calibre of our chefs, the Western Cape has earned itself a reputation as a foodie haven, attracting visitors from all around the world. From tiny hole-in-the-wall style restaurants, to award winning fine dining, the province has something to suit every palate. By supporting these establishments, visitors and locals alike are helping to fuel economic growth, and create new jobs in the province.”

Says Handley, “Whilst we cannot change the concentration of fine dining restaurants in certain regions, like Cape Town and the winelands, we consciously ask for nominations from all over the country. Initial visits are anonymous, and only the visit at which the chef is interviewed, is announced and hosted. Restaurants that rate highly are considered for a plating. As consistency is one of the more important criteria, over 30 in all, chefs can only be evaluated for a plate after completing a season in the restaurant. One aspect of fine dining we can change is upskilling people who wish to work in this engaging, exciting industry. As there is no barrier to entry, people with the right attitude can start at the bottom and develop aptitude,” says Handley.

Handley owns a brand performance business, and in addition to producing and curating the annual JHP Gourmet Guide™, has written three bestselling business books aimed at inspiring and empowering people in business. The first JHP Gourmet Guide™ was launched in 2016/17, the 2018 guide won an international Gourmand World Cookbook Award. The 2019 guide will be available in leading bookstores, Woolworths and online at R299.

“Having been plated in the 2017 and 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™, it is a privilege to be hosting the 2019 launch and welcoming the top chefs in SA to our new fine dining restaurant. The awards are very special, to be associated with the best of our business is an honour and something to be proud of. The JHP Gourmet Guide™ is a beautifully published book of all the top restaurants in our country, and one that I’m proud to be a part of,” says chef Dylan Laity.

Plated chefs were given plates and bespoke wine coolers crafted by Mervyn Gers Ceramics, and the five Haute Performance Award winners received a custom-designed collector’s item of crockery, and an artisanal mixer from KitchenAid.

HAUTE PERFORMANCE AWARDS

The inaugural Haute Performance Awards have been created, established for those who are creating footprints in the industry. The 2019 winners are Candice Philip of Grei (Haute Property), who was plated in 2018, Bertus Basson of Overture (Haute Passion), Adriaan Maree of Fermier (Haute Pride), Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat (Haute Provenance) and Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse (Haute People). Trailblazer Luke Dale Roberts won the 2019 SWISS Culinary Innovation Award, to fly to Europe on SWISS Business, with a partner.

PLATED RESTAURANTS

Newcomer to the three-plated list in 2019 is Greenhouse, deservedly joining La Colombe, Restaurant Mosaic and The Test Kitchen. Taking their place on the list of two-plate holders for the first time is Camphors at Vergelegen, along with Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia, dw eleven-13, Foliage, Indochine, Nobu, The Pot Luck Club, and The Restaurant at Waterkloof.

First-timers for a one plate are Cavalli, Chefs Warehouse at Maison, La Petite Colombe, Le coin Français, Rust en Vrede, The Shortmarket Club and Urbanologi. Jordan Restaurant has returned to the list, joining stalwarts Aubergine, Chef’s Table at Belmond Mount Nelson, Marble, Myoga and Terroir from 2018.

Thank you to Bevan Cockcroft for capturing this memorable event.

The cream of the crop

Whilst winter was making herself obvious I came out from the cold to experience the cream of the crop of epicurean adventures, amidst many a meeting whilst we gear up for launching the JHP Gourmet Guide™ 2019. Let me pinch myself, this is not a shabby job, and I remain in awe at the opportunity and privilege of experiencing the very best of South Africa’s culinary landscape.

THE STACK

A luncheon meeting with a client (who many moons ago did a year’s internship at my company and is now the marketing manager of a global company in SA), took place at The Stack in Gardens. Apart from being legendary for hosting the launch of the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™ in October last year in their member’s club, believe me when I say it is perfect for a business or leisure lunch, romantic or fun dinner, guaranteed to create a good impression. The outside terrace is calming, no-one would guess that you are in the heart of the city. We sat in the shade of the trees and re-connected over delicious, authentic brasserie fare that included a memorable risotto and flavoursome linefish, cooked to perfection. After lunch I chatted to head chef Delia Harbottle, who honed her craft in The Liz McGrath Collection. Her love of the Capes’ crop is obvious, and she is committed to supporting local suppliers. Expect her favourite ingredients, game, to appear on the menu, and when available, Jerusalem artichokes. Look out for more delicious fish dishes, sustainably sourced, and take advantage of the plat du jour, “It’s with this that my team use their knowledge and have fun,” says Delia.

NOBU

If it is spectacular Japanese cuisine that your heart cries out for, and you feel like splashing out, then make a booking for Nobu at the One&Only Cape Town in the V&A Waterfront. From the cheery, traditional Japanese chant that welcomes you into the triple volume space, to the last sip of sake, you will be overwhelmed. We took our seats and when we said cheers with a glass of bubbles, a lone gent at the table next to us whispered that it was his favourite way of starting a meal. A lively interchange between courses followed, as after our first two, he leant across and exclaimed that he had never seen anyone enjoy food to the same degree that my husband and I do! I did not have the heart to tell him that I eat for a living. He, with us, relished the explanations of the drinks and dishes that were so expertly shared by the service staff. Our meal was amazing, from tangy tacos to tonno with dried shimeji mushrooms, caviar on wasabi mash to the Caesar salad with lobster, Woodford truffles, Parmesan, truffle aioli and rice crouton to the Chilean sea bass, cooked and served inventively. We both savoured each morsel before devouring the Alaskan king crab with delectable Nobu sauces. We seared our Wagyu beef on hot rocks and then ended off with a whisky dessert with a creamy topping and chef Harald’s special Malva pud with a subtle hint of lemongrass.

Chef Harold Hurtada, who hails from the Philippines, lives the ethos of global icon Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. In his 18 months in the Mother City he has learnt to love her produce, and is committed to trying to source ingredients locally before looking further afield, always buying the best and insisting on top quality.

GREENHOUSE

Allow me to share snippets of my superlative fine dining experience at Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel, a proud member of the Relais & Châteaux stable that always celebrates local terrior. I managed a quick and inspiring chat to Grande chef Peter Tempelhoff before dinner. It covered his recent trip to France, the country that has had the biggest influence on his career, as he was classically trained. There is no doubt that Japan has had its impact too, obvious in his respect for ingredients, illustrated with his anecdote of how when the fish and seafood arrives at the restaurant in a box, it has a piece of paper on which is written where, when and by whom it was caught. We then got onto SA, which his menu pays homage to, tells stories of and showcases his passion for where we are. His menu is ever-evolving in sync with the seasons, and there are inventive new executions and combinations, like sour fig gel served with the squid.

If my man (the hunter) and I (the Pisces) order main courses we always order something different so that I can ‘see’ more of a menu, and without saying he goes carnivore and I go piscatorial. I was delighted and transformed by the Springbok, which may make me change my ways. A simple rub with coffee, braaied with coffee butter and rolled in a special braai spice, I labelled it quite the best Springbok I have ever devoured. I even wandered into the kitchen to see how it was cooked! Peter’s right hand man, Ashley Moss, is equally dedicated to sourcing locally whilst being globally inspired. The final act was chocolate tapas – three renditions of chocolate each flavoured with a different tea – then their version of an Irish coffee, local to its core with a popcorn-infused cream, local whisky, Ethiopian coffee and popcorn dust. Nothing short of heavenly. The service is superior with the perfect touch of theatre, without being overplayed. Writing this, remembering the experience, my heart beats just a little faster.

THE TEST KITCHEN

I still get excited about each and every review that I conduct, and a much-anticipated visit to TTK is no exception. Here the aim is to experiment, not to be pigeon-holed, so there is always new excitement, nothing ever feels the same. After being seated in the dark room I sipped a TTK gin and tonic cocktail before starting the culinary journey around the world. Highlights were the billionaires’ shortbread – a dish which remains on the menu as Luke Dale Robert’s signature dish – something he swore he would never have, but as it is quirky and exceptional, there it stays. The coconut langoustine reminded me of my last TTK dinner, at the Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius at their successful pop-up earlier this year.

We were escorted into the light room after a memorable array of canapés, to enjoy the more formal part of the experience. I was delighted to perch at the counter with prime view of the kitchen team at work in front of me, giving me the chance to chat to the fortunate few who are working with the maestro. There is a relaxing, fun ambience, and when I swivelled around to look at the restaurant, was thrilled to see people who have flown halfway across the world for their reservation, savouring the unforgettable voyage of discovery. By the time the beef, horseradish and Yorkshire pud arrived I was friends with a young British girl next to us, so could not resist teasing her about how this traditional favourite would never be the same again. Every enticing element of the evening hits a high note, the food, the iconic or gourmand wine pairing, and even the fragrant tea pairing which I chose. The staff ensure that everyone relaxes into the groove, and animated conversation is peppered with laughter. They know that this is a night to remember, and in-between serving dishes (to appreciative oohs and aahs), they take the odd photograph and really make you feel at home. I felt privileged to try a new dish that is not yet on the menu, a savoury take on tiramisu that is conjured up from…no, let me not ruin the surprise. Make your booking, make your own investment in precious, indelible memories, don’t be tempted to simply feast off mine. And if you have to book a flight, so be it – this is, after all – destination dining.

Hot on the heels of The Test Kitchen team in Mauritius

IMG-20180416-WA0013

Motor enthusiasts dream of going to the Monaco Grand Prix. Tennis lovers want ringside seats at Wimbledon with strawberries and cream. What’s the ultimate for food lovers? The Test Kitchen in Mauritius…

It was a mere 30 years ago that I visited Mauritius for the first time. As a newly-wed, I was bleating that it was an irresponsible trip, that we should have put that money into our bond. We arrived in the dark at our hotel, to the rhythmic beat and colourful sight of sega dancers. With cocktail in hand I started to become slightly less resistant. Waking up and drawing the curtains to see a large expanse of pure white sand, palm trees gently blowing in a breeze and turquoise waters – well I was completely entranced. My wanderlust had been unlocked…and there was no looking back!

We returned to the island a few years ago, and on our way home I declared that one day we would return to experience Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa. Someone must have been listening?

IMG-20180413-WA0000

A quick chat to three-plated chef Luke Dale Roberts before heading off to Mauritius, really got my excitement going. I asked him about the challenges of moving half of his team to the island to recreate the award-winning cuisine that TTK has become famous for. Here is a man who relishes a challenge, for whom start-ups get his adrenalin pumping and the creative juices running.  I had no doubt that the Test Kitchen Mauritius at the refined Republik Beach Club & Grill at Shangri-La Le Touessrok, would be chic, slick and worthy of a flight.  It is here that five-star food will meet five-star setting, and dark will turn to light. The concept of this innovative move came to Luke when faced with the challenges of the drought in Cape Town. (For those left behind – make your booking for the TTK Drought menu).

IMG-20180416-WA0012

After a five-hour flight from Cape Town and a one-hour drive to the resort, we dashed past the smiling sega dancers welcoming us, to our superlative suite. It was 19h00, and the launch party had started at 18h30. The quickest shower ever and we were sashaying down the lawn to meet the media and dignitaries, including the Mauritian tourism ambassador, to enjoy snacks in the dark (replicating the TTK dark room experience). The yellow lentil crisps with local atchar and homemade sour cream, Mauritian spiced ‘Kobe’ beef and local wild boar roll with sushi rice and bloomed mustard made way for a ceviche with curried pineapple and lemongrass granite in true island-style. After sipping Champagne and cocktails and making acquaintance with a host of friendly Mauritians, Luke welcomed all guests and we found our way to tables in the light room.

What a treat to be seated with Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok’s assistant director of communications Sabrina Sobrayen and fellow media with a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. It was hotting up – the first of six courses were being plated, with Luke dashing in and out, head chef Ryan Cole working his magic with the rest of the team. Front of house from TTK in Cape Town, unaccustomed to the heat and humidity of the island, made every effort to look as cool as cucumbers, but a few private chats and we knew they were sweltering! Each of the courses was as good as the last. Fellow writers at our table questioned us about The Test Kitchen and we proudly told them all about it. For us it was a different experience – same world class standards of culinary expertise, yet in a relaxed environment. Hints of the island came through in flavours such as hibiscus, local cacao and vanilla. My dish of the day was the vielle rouge (red snapper) with butter roasted carrot, coriander pesto and a carrot extraction. My man chose the slow cooked pork belly with blue cheese, local honey and lavender as his, until the wood pigeon with local cacao beetroot, a liver stuffing and dukkah arrived, making it a tie. The dessert was a delicate blend of bread (brioche), milk and honey. Flip to page 72 of the JHP Gourmet Guide™ to see the recipe.

After dinner from heaven every guest was given a copy of the JHP Gourmet Guide™, and many wanted them autographed by three-plated chef Luke. We managed to find time for a quick chat, and to congratulate him on an evening that will live forever in the memories of those lucky enough to have been at the Republik Grill & Bar. We ended the evening catching up with the only other South African media representative present, Hillary Biller, food editor of the Sunday Times (read her account of the occasion next week), and headed to our gorgeous frangipani suite for some shut-eye.

How incredible to wake to the sound of the waves, and after a sumptuous breakfast, to be shuttled in a boat to private island Ilot Mangenie, where we were greeted by our butler with a cold cloth and the offer of cleaning my sunglasses! A private cabana, plus loungers and a luncheon table with a bottle of rosé and ice-cold water beckoned. At lunchtime we were brought truffle pizza, grilled lobster and salad. Our butler took good care of us until it was time to boat back to the resort for our couple massage at Chi, the spectacular spa at the resort.

After happy hour, sipping bubbly on the beach, we headed to Safran for an authentic Indian dinner – pigeon samosas for my man and fish in banana leaves for me, followed by piquant curries.

The next day in paradise started with a walk on the beach, breakfast and then a boat ride to Île aux Cerfs, which previously was a private island for Le Touessrok, but is now open to the public, offering water sports and some laid-back shopping. In search of solitude, we hopped back onto the boat and languished in the sun. Lunch of salads admiring the ocean – palm heart for me and Caesar with prawn for my man, whilst sipping cocktails, then all too soon it was time for happy hour.  Dinner at Kushi, the Japanese restaurant, was a treat. Saki, sushi and deep-fried shrimp with a tangy sauce was followed by black cod and salmon – exceptional dishes. Yuzu tart and vanilla ice cream and I was ready for bed.

One last day of warm sea, sunny skies and superlative, attentive service and we had to tear ourselves away from the island. A quick chat to Luke to wish him well for the rest of his time in Mauritius, and we were waved goodbye by the sega dancers, leaving a little of our hearts at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, otherwise known as the perfect paradise.

From the drought-stricken Cape to chaotic Colombo

SRI LANKA – WHERE THE JUNGLE MEETS THE OCEAN

My desire to visit Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was all about the food and tea, and I was not disappointed. In spite of the poverty and political unrest, it was a gentle country where we found all people to be really welcoming. I was lucky to be experiencing it with my best friend, Anne, otherwise known as Thelma from our previous experiences.

After two flights via Dubai Thelma and Louise landed in Colombo, and once we had cleared customs (note to travellers, you apply and pay for your visa online and then quickly collect at passport control) we were hit by the heat as we stepped outside. Climbing into the cool of the air-conditioned airport shuttle, Thelma, making polite conversation with our friendly driver, asked him if drivers use their hooters much in Colombo. A moment later I laughed hysterically as we snaked our way through the congested, chaotic streets in which the biggest bus gets right of way, and everyone hoots constantly! Whilst there is a high level of chaos, somehow it seems to work, and no-one gets aggressive. We quickly got used to buses overtaking cars and tuk-tuks, all at the same time. Single lane roads make travelling long and laborious, but never dull! Landing the day after the state of emergency had been lifted, we were pleased to see that a feeling of peace pervaded.

An obligatory overnight stay in the capital city of Colombo was delightful. We stepped out in light rain to walk to the Pettah Market area, along the way admiring architecture that pays homage to Dutch, Portuguese and British influences in their history. Here locals shop for everything from food to clothing, and the aroma of spices interspersed with traffic fumes, made for a stimulating afternoon. Jumping into a tuk-tuk (a three wheeler with a canopy powered by petrol) we headed down to the Galle Face Hotel, a landmark next to Galle Park, where locals fly kites and eat from the many food hawkers along the seafront. We sat and sipped gin and tonics watching the sunset. As the sun dipped below the horizon the sound of bagpipes filled the air, and we watched a man in a kilt lower the Sri Lanka flag. Note to self- read up on the Scot influence in their history!

By now we had worked out that for every 100 Sri Lankan rupees we were only spending R7,60, which stopped me haggling with the tuk-tuk drivers. The Dutch hospital, opposite our very satisfactory Fairway Colombo hotel in the centre of the city, houses a few interesting restaurants in the corridors and courtyard. By night the atmosphere is romantic, and although one can barely see what you are eating, know that it will be delicious. We settled at a table in the courtyard and ordered a crab curry, hot and spicy and really yum, washed down with local beer. By the end of it we looked like we had been in a food fight, but it was worth it!

Wiping the sleep out of my eyes I made Thel some coffee to get her going, but sadly without my glasses I emptied a few sachets of sweetener, instead of creamer, into her coffee, so off we set in search of a coffee shop whilst waiting for our airport shuttle. Another hour’s drive to the airport but this time to catch the fun float plane. It really is an exciting ride, with great visibility, and we were delighted that we had three stops before landing at Weerawilla, to catch a shuttle to what would be our beautiful home in the bush for two nights.

We are thrilled that our first Sri Lankan cookery course is fully booked. Looking forward to welcoming our gourmet guests tomorrow to enjoy a fun-filled morning.

TESTING, TESTING

For those of you who have not yet booked for The Drought Kitchen at The Test Kitchen, then do so now. It will live up to all expectations, and no doubt exceed them. If you would like to read more about it visit my online article on Food & Home Entertaining’s blog:www.foodandhome.co.za/entertaining/drought-menu-test-kitchen-invitation-innovation.

If you are feeling extravagant, then book for chef Luke Dale-Robert’s pop-up Test Kitchen at the Shangri-La Le Touessrok in Mauritius, from 12 April to 26 May. I’m not sure when last I’ve been so excited – I feel honoured to be heading there for the opening night next week. Having awarded The Test Kitchen three plates in the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™, we know that this is world class destination dining, worthy of a flight. How wonderful to be witnessing this first hand. Stay posted and you can drool too – Jen’s Journeys will be first with the scoop!

The Test Kitchen Mauritius pop-up, definitely worthy of a flight

The Test Kitchen Mauritius pop-up at Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa set to wow discerning diners 

1

Mauritius, 5 March 2018; SHANGRI-LA’S LE TOUESSROK RESORT & SPA, MAURITIUS is delighted to announce a new culinary partnership with The Test Kitchen, an internationally acclaimed fine dining destination, awarded “22nd Best Restaurant in the World” in 2016, based in Cape Town, South Africa. Set to further cement the resort’s position as Mauritius’ leading dining hotspots, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will host The Test Kitchen for six weeks, from 12 April – 26 May 2018 at the Republik Beach Club & Grill.

During the partnership, guests will be invited to experience a unique culinary journey curated by The Test Kitchen’s award-winning, Chef-Patron Luke Dale Roberts. A name synonymous with the finest, most creative and innovative food in Africa, Roberts will be bringing his outstanding gourmet experience to the shores of Shangri-La’s Le Tousserok Resort & Spa with a tapas menu and a five course menu, of which two variations will be available at different dates, reflecting his journey around the world, and specially curated to showcase Mauritian spices and flavours at their best. The pristine white beaches of Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will provide a stunning backdrop for this once in a lifetime experience which will see Roberts and his stellar team of 17, share their expert techniques and passion for flavour alongside the resort’s chefs. To further heighten this gourmet experience, guests will also be treated to tableside cocktail blending.

1

Described as a “world class dining destination that is worthy of a flight” by the prestigious JHP Gourmet Guide and awarded both “Best Restaurant in Africa” as well as “22nd Best Restaurant in the World” in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2016, The Test Kitchen has an international appeal. Diners from across the globe travel to South Africa to experience Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s unique culinary journey of 21 courses, innovatively presented on a ‘Food Map’. This April, for the first time, the restaurant is taking its gastronomic adventure to new heights, by launching its first ever international outpost, The Test Kitchen Mauritius, at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa. The special collaboration will give food lovers the chance to sample The Test Kitchen’s famed cuisine on the paradisiacal shores of the iconic Mauritian property.

Opened by award-winning Chef Luke Dale Roberts in 2010, The Test Kitchen consists of a Dark Room and a Light Room both of which are only open for dinner. Dining at the restaurant is a true culinary journey, commencing in The Dark Room, with a snack menu paired with curated cocktails followed by a 5-course gourmand menu in The Light Room. It is within The Dark Room that guests are presented with a ‘Food Map’ on a parchment scroll informing them of the culinary treasures they are about to taste shortly followed by the arrival of the first of the five Dark Room dishes. The Light Room is an airier and more formal room with a menu that reflects internationally acclaimed Chef-Patron Luke Dale Roberts’s journey around the world. Signature dishes include the Peruvian ceviche harking back to the months Roberts spent travelling through South America as well as a ‘Billionaire’s Shortbread’ as a nod to the chef’s love of Scotland. To echo The Test Kitchen’s Dark Room and Light Room, guests will start their evening at the Republik Bar area to enjoy the tapas menu with cocktails as associated with the Dark Room. They will then continue their gastronomic journey at the beachfront restaurant, for a five-course gourmand menu in tribute to the iconic restaurant’s Light Room.

2

As well as Republik Beach Club & Grill, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa is also home to six other trendy restaurants and bars with cutting-edge dining concepts, vibrant atmospheres and artistic collaborations. The hotel also boasts two swimming pools, an 18-hole par 72 championship golf course, a kids’ club and CHI, The Spa focusing on indigenous and holistic wellness. The resort features Ilot Mangénie; a private island exclusively accessible to resort’s guests as well as three iconic beach villas which come replete with dedicated teams of staff.

The Test Kitchen Mauritius experience is priced at MUR 3,500 per person, including a snack menu of four dishes served tapas style in the Dark Room and a five-course gourmand menu in the Light Room.

#TestKitchenMauritius

For more information and reservation: Tel: 0800 028 3337, sltr@shangri-la.com  www.shangri-la.com/mauritius

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email premierbrands@manley-communications.com  or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications via www.manley-communications.com

ENDS/

About Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently operates over 100 hotels with a room inventory of over 41,000.  Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.  Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.  The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in Australia, mainland China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.  For more information, please visit www.shangri-la.com

Feeding my appetite for learning

I have an insatiable appetite for learning – new languages, competencies and even crafts. Having the joy of working with professional photographers frees me to concentrate on putting together artful prose, but it also intimidates me! I stand back in awe as they frame pictures to create works of art. They fiddle with lighting, props and voila, the plate is perfectly captured. Being under pressure to capture a few of my own happy snaps whilst feasting, for social media, I try to make it as quick as possible, so that I can concentrate on reviewing the meal at the right temperature. I hate standing up and making a spectacle of myself or moving a plate to the light. Often it is merely as a visual trigger for my writing up my notes a few days later, but either way I know I had to learn a little about food photography.

Knowing that I needed to up my game I signed on for a one-day food photography course with Hein van Tonder. We had worked together on a food shoot at The Test Kitchen with a visiting world-renowned chef Jorge Vallejo, and I was truly impressed with his talent.

Hein and Francois Pistorius, fashion and now food photographer, welcomed a group of enthusiastic wannabee-clickies in Langebaan at the seaside home of Isabella Niehaus, who is lauded for her ‘long tables’ that she hosts in this character-filled abode. I was determined not to be further intimidated by the fancy cameras and settled in to learn more about photography using my i-phone. After a little theory we started to play with props and subject matter from an overflowing harvest table, and Isabella kept hot food coming our way so that we could learn how to capture cooked dishes complete with steam. Lunch was a delicious affair, and then we played with photographing movement – from icing sugar being dusted over doughnuts to ice blocks being dropped in a glass of milk. I learnt a lot about the value of good lighting and composition, so left feeling more confident about my photography, but know that I am still work in progress.

Visit http://heinstirred.com/ to find out more.

SI

A few motivating meetings were held over scrumptious salads in February – I have to make healthy choices when I can! Si Cantina Sociale in the Silo district of the V&A Waterfront is a drawcard, laid-back by day and buzzing at night. It is here that people come to congregate over a great grills, vegetarian and Mediterranean food or tasty tapas to share. The urban-chic space is convivial, social and stylish. Here you share, taste and feast – with appropriate drinks – from breakfast to dinner. It’s a great spot to take in a game on the big screen TV, or sit in a booth and enjoy a catch-up with a close friend. Their burgers get rave reviews – like all dishes on the menu, they are made from ethically, locally sourced produce. My eyes constantly darted from my energy-giving green salad to the captivating mural on the wall, to the friendly faces of the waiters.

THE STACK

The Stack is another go-to for fresh produce and a great salad – I chose the buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil salad with pine nuts, my colleague the green salad with asparagus, beans and boiled egg. Don’t think that is all they are famous for, locals and visitors flock there for fabulous French bistro fare, classically cooked with a modern twist. We were there to check out the cuddle, huddle and screening rooms – all part of the perks that members are up for. Stunning décor and constantly updated artwork may distract you, but business – or pleasure – can easily be the order of the day in this stylish venue.

LAZARI

Here the Asian chicken salad hit the right spot for me, whilst enjoying an animated debate about brand architecture with a non-foodie. This restaurant in the Gardens gathers worker bees from nearby with their delicious cakes and pastries, and breakfast and lunch offerings that are fresh and tasty. No fuss, no frills, and very chilled.

LE COIN FRANCAIS 

One of the pleasures of my work is writing food features for magazines. Food & Home Entertaining is a wonderful platform for producers and chefs, and I love the opportunity of interrogating them to increase my knowledge.

Chef Darren Badenhorst, famed for his tenure at Grande Provence, opened his own restaurant on the main road of Franschhoek in October. Here he has truly found his footing in a sophisticated yet laid-back French-inspired setting. A feeling of serenity prevails, and his cuisine truly impresses. Lunch can be a more casual affair, but the treat of his chef’s journey for dinner, is the stuff that indelible memories are made of. His true talent shines on a plate. Keep an eye out for my full article in Food & Home Entertaining during winter, and if you cannot wait, go there and see for yourself!

THE TEST KITCHEN

Joining fellow food media to experience the drought menu at The Test Kitchen was a wonderful way of ending a frenetic week. From 1 April to 31 May Luke Dale-Roberts and his team will be showing exactly how world-class cuisine can be served saving water, yet not compromising on class and quality. Innovative to the core, he has put all the right water-saving systems in place in the restaurant, but followed through with wooden frames and hand-crafted cards to replace plates. We were spoilt with an undeniably perfect sample of his six-course menu, captivating from first sip to last bite. Sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka gave us a taste of his own white blend, of Semillon and Chenin, called Kumusha, as a welcome drink. This, in Shona, means ‘my home’ or ‘my roots’. I left, full of more-than-good food and good intentions, inspired to continue my vigilant water-saving in our own home. Read all about this in the digital edition of Food & Home Entertaining.

CALLING A CREATIVE CHEF

Fancy a lifestyle change? If you are a young chef, this could be your opportunity to flex your food muscles and showcase your personality on a plate. A little more experienced? Time to get off the treadmill in town and find your passion for country living, hospitality and of course, country cooking. Manor House Restaurant in Stanford, known for its contemporary country-style cuisine, is looking for a creative chef/cook. They like to impress guests with good-looking cooking, but believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. “Fine dining it is not” says owner Elsabe. If you are interested, then contact her –  Mobile: 072 198 0862 | info@stanfordvalley.co.za.  The position includes accommodation.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Four Seasons The Westcliff will be presenting their pièce de résistance in March – a French pop up restaurant with Michelin Star Chef Vincent Lucas on Saturday, 17, Sunday 18 and Wednesday, 21 March. For bookings visit http://www.fourseasonsevents.co.za.

2

Neethlingshof in the heart of the Stellenbosch winelands is a place to relax. Enjoy the Flash Food and Slow Wine Pairing Menu which consists of five bite-sized snacks each carefully paired with a wine. Go as a couple, with friends or family – children too have their own kiddies pairing. Experience this menu, daily, at a cost of R100 per adult for five courses and R50 per child for three courses.  Bookings are advisable and for groups of six or more, essential.

Tel: 021 883 8988

1

dw eleven-13 – In Jo’burg looking for a quick and delicious mid-week lunch? Look no further – dw eleven-13 is the place to be with a lunch special running from Tuesdays to Fridays between 12h00 and 14h30. Enjoy a three-course meal and a glass of wine for R250.

Tel: 011 3410663

dw eleven-13

From Ellerman House to down under

What a week of feasting, starting with a delicious lunch on the terrace at Ellerman House overlooking the Atlantic Ocean feeling happy to be back home. So what’s wrong with winter in the Cape when you bask in the sunshine in good company eating lunch outside after spending some time appreciating South Africa’s most comprehensive private art collection? Or seeing happy visitors chatting to the team at Ellerman House about their day out, firmly ensconced in this premium property for their holiday, made to feel like family? I’m not sure I would be able to tear myself away if I was on holiday there. For many reasons, as it is here that food, wine and art come together in true harmony. Apparently, some regulars settle themselves in and rarely leave their pool loungers, other than to make a visit to my favourite spa. The menu is innovated daily to ensure interest for guests, and to take advantage of whatever is freshest on that day. I chose scallops enhanced with fresh apple and pancetta, followed by Coq au Vin, which allowed me to reminisce about my recent trip to Burgundy. Good company too – the new GM of Ellerman House, Paul Bruce-Brand is sure to take this Relais & Châteaux property to new heights with the ideas that he and his team have been cooking up. A chat with executive Chef Grant Daniels centered on how heritage influences one’s style of cooking, and we shared stories of how our mother’s cooking shaped our love of food. As this property is truly exclusive, not open to the public, do what I do – encourage your friends and family to stay there, so that you can visit!

IMG-20170707-WA0011 (2)

Tuesday it was off to The Test Kitchen for a culinary journey that started in the dark room with cocktails, the pomelo and yuzu Caipiroska getting my top vote of the sweet, sour, salty and bitter collection. A short trip around the world on our tastebuds that included billionaires from Scotland (you have to go there to find out more), and we were ready to be moved to the light room. We settled in for what can only be described as an evening of food theatre, my man loving the iconic wine pairing, and I for interest taking the tea option. Each course was a story in itself, served with aplomb and efficiency. I would struggle to choose a favourite dish, as each was better than the last, but if push came to shove I will say the duck with sour cherry clafoutis, duck liver stuffing and sour cherry jus. I can understand, looking around the room, why visitors from all around the globe book a holiday to Cape Town for this. This level of innovation deserves international applause, and I was again, proud to be a Capetonian. Luke Dale-Roberts and his team know how to push the envelope of innovation.

Wednesday? Off to Tintswalo Atlantic to witness how their new chef Guy Clark is gathering inspiration from the ocean, literally lapping up to the deck, with his Ocean and Ash tasting menu. Attention to detail is extreme, and even the menus (painted by his equally talented photographer brother Tom), are works of art. I knew where to sit – there was a rock with my name on it, with a message of luck on the reverse. Warmly welcomed by owner and CEO Lisa Goosen with a glass of Phoenix bubbly, one can only admire how the property was resurrected in eight months after a devastating fire. Guy introduced each course to the very receptive media crew gathered around the table enjoying the supreme setting and view of the Hout Bay sentinel. I loved the marron, and his liquid umami made up of 32 ingredients. At the end of a memorable meal we took our rocks in our right hands, and threw them over our left shoulders, making a wish as they made a splash in the sea. Mine, of course, was simply to return, having seen the sumptuous style of two of the bedrooms, beautifully decorated to capitalize on incredible ocean frontage. Locals are sure to catch on quickly to the joy of having breakfast, lunch or dinner here. Booking is essential.

Thursday it was time to dig down under, to discover more about Woodford truffles. I started by sniffing some from Australia, some from Italy and then those that are from right here in the Western Cape. As there is a short window period of 18 days for removing them from the ground (detected by well-trained dogs), it is no surprise to discover why they cost what they do. I too would’ve put my precious produce into the talented hands of chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine. He produced a menu to honour the truffles’ true and distinctive flavours, paired with exceptional wines from his cellar (into which I did, admittedly, sneak for a peek).

Friday? Time to have the pleasure of writing about these plates and experiences for you – better than a second helping!